In 1892 and 1893 a troupe of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island performers was taken to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to stage what was known as the 'Wild Australia' Show. The project was conceived and promoted by a Queensland journalist entrepreneur, Archibald Meston, who conscripted a junior partner, Brabazon Purcell as the manager of the troupe.
This exhibition explores a brief period in the life of Archibald Meston, one of the most influential and controversial figures in Queensland Indigenous history. Meston attempted to portray a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people as “primitive savages” and marketed them as untouched by European influences. He attempted to profit financially from these performers and even though this ambitious plan soon failed, he continued to promote himself over the next decade as an expert in regard to Aboriginal people. Following this failed business venture Meston managed to position himself as one of the most influential advisors to the Queensland Government on Aboriginal issues and was very influential in the introduction of Queensland’s first Aboriginal protection policy that was introduced in 1897.